The best time to go to Sintra

Sintra’s unique and refreshing microclimate is the reason royalty and the well heeled embraced it as a way to escape the heat of Lisbon in summer.
Elevated, and with a constant Atlantic breeze, Sintra is usually several degrees cooler than Lisbon and Cascais, just along the coast. Summer days can still be fiercely hot however, so if you are prepared to brave the crowds it’s advisable to arrive early, or later in the afternoon, to miss the worst of it. The best time to visit Sintra is spring and autumn, when it’s still warm but not as busy, and the surrounding vegetation is at its most verdant – rural hiking trails offer blissful shade too. Winter in Sintra is damp and windy, but that does lend extra spectacle to Cabo de Roca and wild Guincho Beach.

Sintra Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
6
14
114
FEB
6
15
89
MAR
8
17
63
APR
9
17
65
MAY
12
20
48
JUN
14
23
18
JUL
16
24
5
AUG
16
25
6
SEP
15
24
34
OCT
13
21
99
NOV
8
16
119
DEC
7
14
113

Things to do in Sintra

Things to do in Sintra…

There’s a lot more to Sintra than just its palaces and historic centre, beautiful though they may be. Explore Sintra-Cascais Natural Park using the many excellent walking and hiking trails that spider across the Serra da Sintra, and seek out the Peninha Sanctuary, one of the best viewpoints in the park. Some accommodations will also be able to help you organise everything from wine tasting to mountain biking to yoga sessions and even mindful knitting sessions if that’s your bag. Do dress for the weather. Sintra’s climate is cooler than Lisbon and also much more changeable due to its hillside elevation and proximity to the Atlantic. Layer your clothing and be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes – even if you’re not here to hike they’ll come in handy for pounding the cobbled streets of Sintra’s historic centre. Hit the beach. The Algarve may be Portugal’s top beach destination, but there are some awesome Atlantic gems to be found along the edge of Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Guincho, with huge waves whipped up by the wind, is beloved of local and international surf aficionados, while the Praia da Adraga is immensely photogenic. Together with Cascais and its glitzy heritage, they are some of the most ravishing stretches of sand in this part of Portugal.

Things not  to do in Sintra…

If you can, avoid visiting during the summer. Thousands of people descend on Lisbon’s most popular daytrip destination every day in July and August, and parking in the town can be a near impossibility. Combined with temperatures around 25°C it’s just not a great deal of fun. But if summer it has to be, then aim to arrive early, and use the frequent and inexpensive public bus to avoid the fevered quest to find a parking spot. Many tour groups in Sintra follow the ‘Three Palaces’ route, finishing with the most renowned. So don’t leave Pena Palace to the end of the day as that’s when you’ll find it busiest. Instead go first thing, or perhaps at lunchtime, to explore this Romanticist masterpiece with its dazzling yellow walls and architectural features, peacocking on top of a hill. You don’t need to rent a car if you’re staying in Sintra. The park has a superb public transport network, and accommodation providers can often help with airport transfers, shuttles to beaches, villages and other points of interest, saving you from getting behind the wheel. You can easily craft a thoroughly rewarding itinerary of walks, yoga and even art classes in Sintra with no need to go into the town at all.

Sintra travel advice

Aasta Schneider from our supplier Colina Flora, an eco B&B based just outside Sintra, shares her local knowledge:

Two-day itinerary suggestions

“Monserrate Palace and Park (our favorite), Quinta da Regaleira, Pena Palace and the Castle of the Moors all are worth seeing, though in summer months the palaces are very crowded, Monserrate less so. Then there is the amazing Convento dos Capuchos which is within walking distance from our B&B, a convent dating back to the 1560’s or so, and because the buses do not go there it is never crowded. There lots to see, so for a two-day itinerary I would do Monserrate and Convento dos Capuchos on day one and Pena Palace and the castle and walk about Sintra on day two.”

Hidden places

“Sintra has become very popular so the ‘secret’ places have all been discovered really. Regrettably even the beautiful Praia da Ursa (Ursa Beach) which can only be reached on foot has been mentioned in a recent guide book, so now all the beaches are popular. Our closest beach Praia da Adraga is great and very beautiful, so it’s still worth seeking out. I also recommend the Castle of the Moors and the grounds of Pena Palace to escape most of the crowds.”

Walking in Sintra

“The walking trails through the beautiful forests here are, amazingly, rarely used and the walks can be personalised to suit all levels and preferred durations. It is quite hilly but one can walk downhill and take a bus back, and the forest walks are not too strenuous.”

Our top Sintra Holiday

Sintra Natural Park accommodation in Portugal

Sintra Natural Park accommodation in Portugal

Eco-friendly B&B, in Sintra Natural Park near lovely beaches

From €90 to €120 per room per night
Accommodation
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sintra or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Sintra travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
Pack a couple of jumpers, the weather is very temperamental (misty and rainy to hot and sunny!)
– Laura Williams
“Do use the local buses, easy to get around to see more, easy trip to Sintra, the coastal walks, and further if desired... Do visit the Capuchos Convent, an easy hour walking up the road, before it becomes too well known and popular.” – Stephen Butler

“As for the Sintra region, it is just a stunning area with jaw dropping scenery, natural history, cultural history, beaches, superb restaurants and most of all very friendly people. Bring your walking shoes… it opened up experiences of the region that you just won't get by driving.” – Lee Turner

“Don't be afraid to go carless! We are not seasoned walkers but managed some beautiful walks and the buses and trains are cheap and easy to navigate. Roads and parking are tricky so it's much better by far to go without.” – Mandy Brooker

“This was the most relaxing holiday we have ever had. The location was beautiful and there were many moderate walking expeditions to be made in the area. Travel to Cascais and Sintra was straightforward using the local bus service. Our hosts gave us loads of useful advice about walking routes and provided maps, recommended local restaurants and things to see. We thoroughly recommend this accommodation.” – Janet Dear
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Luis Santos] [Intro: Elson Castro] [Things to do: Gustavo Correa] [Aasta Schneider Quote: travelmag.com] [Laura Williams Quote: Clemens Jezler]
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